The Invisible Hem
Patsy looked around the schoolroom. She wasn’t looking at the boys. Not this time, anyway. And she wasn’t looking at the faces of the other seventh grade girls. She was looking at the hems of their dresses. Almost without exception, the hems were barely visible.
Patsy looked down at her own skirt. Reaching down under the desk, she picked up the hem and looked at it. The stitches were so big! Along the bottom of her skirt, you could see lines of thread at intervals all the way around. Patsy didn’t like it, not one bit. Surely her mother could do better than this. She was going to tell her about it, too. Today. Right after school.
And she did. When Patsy got off the bus, her mother was folding clothes and supper was cooking on the stove. An after-school snack of peanut butter and crackers and glasses of kool-aid was waiting on the kitchen table for Patsy and her two younger brothers. The baby, already up from his nap, was banging the plastic blocks in his playpen. This was a perfect time to tell her mother about the problem.
“Momma, can you do this hem over for me?”
“What’s the matter? Did the thread break today?”
“No, it just doesn’t look right.”
“Why? What’s the matter with it?” Her mother glanced over toward Patsy.
“I just want you to do it over so these stitches don’t show on the outside. It doesn’t look good when you can see the thread like this,” Patsy explained patiently.
“Oh. Hmmm,” was her mother’s only reply. She stacked up the folded laundry in her arms, and left the room. A few minutes later, she was back in the kitchen, stirring the pots on the stove and clearing away the crumbs and dirty glasses from the table.
“So, do you think you could fix this hem for me before Sunday?” Patsy asked.
Her mother came and sat down at the table. Resting her chin on the back of her hand, she looked lovingly at her oldest daughter. “No, honey, I’m not going to re-hem that dress for you. There’s nothing really wrong with it, and I’m not a seamstress. But, I’ll tell you what you can do. Go in there and get my sewing box, and you can hem that dress yourself.”
Patsy wasn’t sure how to respond to this novel suggestion. Do it herself? From time to time she had played at sewing a little, but had never sewed by hand, or machine, on something she was actually going to wear. But she really did not like those threads showing on her hem. How hard could it be? “Okay,” she agreed.
By suppertime she had pulled out all the old stitches. After supper she threaded her needle, tied a knot in the ends of the thread and stuck the needle through the fabric. There! That wasn’t so difficult. She would have this dress hemmed in no time. She pulled the thread taut after the first stitch, then looked on the outside of the dress. Only a tiny amount of thread showing! She did a few more stitches and looked again. Some of those stitches were a little bigger. She pulled out the previous stitch and continued.
After an hour of steady, careful stitching, she stopped to assess her progress. So little progress! After a whole hour of work! Of course, this particular dress had a big gathered skirt, so…..(Let’s see…..math class…..circumference?), so… the circumference of this skirt is about . . . 10 or 12 FEET?
Patsy felt her first uncertainty about her ability to hem this dress. (And she wondered just how long it took Momma to hem it.) But apparently, her mom believed she was old enough to do this, and that thought gave Patsy the incentive to keep trying. She worked another hour that night, two more the following night, and finally finished before supper on Saturday evening.
“I did it! I finished!” she yelled as she ran through the house, looking for her mother.
“Let me see!” Momma said. She inspected Patsy’s work carefully. “This is very good, Patsy. I’m proud of you. I think we finally have a seamstress in our family!”
Patsy was glowing as she hugged her mom. Maybe there were a few more grown-up things she could do to help her mother, she thought. “Mom, would you like some help with supper tonight?”
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